Pioneer BDR-X12UBK Review

Pioneer BDR-X12UBK Review

Portable devices are always marketed as super small, slim and light. Which has been the main focus point of all the optical drives that I have reviewed. Well up until now! The Pioneer BDR-X12UBK is pretty much the complete opposite of that. It’s a big bulky device that resembles more of like an internal drive that’s packed in a case. And most importantly, it’s the most powerful external Blu-ray drive in the world! So here’s my review.

Technical Specification

  • Dimensions: 220×160×50 mm / 8.7×6.3×2.0″
  • Weight: 1100 g / 2.43 lbs
  • Loading type: Tray
  • Blu-Ray Writing Speed: Up to 16x BD-R
  • DVD Writing Speed: Up to 16x DVD-R
  • CD Writing Speed: Up to 40x CD-R
  • Features: M-DISC, BDXL, PowerRead, Auto Quiet mode, Drive Utility
  • Compatibility: Windows and Mac OS

In The Box

  • Pioneer BDR-X12UBK
  • USB-B to USB-A cable
  • AC adapter
  • Power cord
  • Pads for vertical and horizontal
  • Manual

Design

The Pioneer BDR-X12UBK is not your average external Blu-ray drive. And you can tell that from just looking at the technical specs. Don’t even need to look at the images. The dimensions (220×160×50 mm / 8.7×6.3×2.0″) alone make it bigger than any other drive I have reviewed. Well apart from the ASUS BW-16D1X-U of course, which has a similar shape and size. So while yes it is an external drive as in you don’t install it inside a computer, it’s not that portable. Sure, it won’t be an issue if you want to take it somewhere. But keeping it inside a laptop bag is out of the question.

Pioneer BDR-X12UBK Design

What I am a huge fan of is the overall design. It’s made out of matte black high quality plastic that just looks so incredibly sleek and simplistic. Like when you think of a professional looking device, the BDR-X12UBK is the perfect example of that. So clean. There’s also a ribbed texture on the sides that make it easier to pick up from and again it makes the drive just look better. Plus the large side area means that you can just position it vertically on a desk as well.

Other than that though, it’s a pretty standard drive. It has a disc tray at the front that smoothly slides out when you push the eject button. There is also an LED indicator light next to the button as well that shows if the drive is working or not. The bottom side has obviously got 4 rubber pads as this is a heavy drive after all. And Pioneer has also supplied an extra set of insulators, which you can add to the side if you want to use the drive vertically.

The back side on the other hand isn’t that typical. Instead of 1 port, there are two. One is a USB type B port and the other is a DC power input. And they have also included an AC adapter. The list of included items is really impressive. Generally a drive comes with just a cable, if it’s not attached, and maybe a software bundle. But Pioneer has taken it to a whole next level and included rubber insulators, cables and power cords. You can tell that it’s a professional grade device.

Performance

The BDR-X12UBK works exactly the same as any other Blu-ray drive. The main difference is that it doesn’t use your computers USB port to draw power. It’s only for transferring data. So you do need to connect the power cord to an outlet in order to use this drive. And that’s because this is the most powerful external Blu-ray drive.

Once you have connected the USB cable, your computer should recognize the drive immediately and you can start using it. It is compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems. And if you want to use it to watch Blu-ray media, then you will need to first install some kind of a media player as Windows doesn’t have built-in support for Blu-ray. You can use VLC for example, which is completely free.

Now you can also use this drive to burn your own Blu-ray discs. And the maximum write speed is clearly impressive, according to Pioneer, the max speed for BD-R is 16x! The speeds are higher even for DVDs and CDs as well. 16x and 40x accordingly. Not even the dedicated DVD drives are this fast. But this also clearly means that the drive is louder as the disc will spin faster as well.

That’s why Pioneer has created this program called Drive Utility, which has a bunch of features for the drive. You can choose between different modes that all adjust the speed, and by that also the noise. For example, you can choose “Entertainment Mode”, which is perfect for watching movies and listening to music. Watching doesn’t require the max speed so the drive will be quiet and you can focus on what you are watching. Then there’s “High Performance Mode”, which is the complete opposite. And there’s even “Eco Mode”, which monitors the power consumption.

Conclusion

Overall if you want the highest quality and the absolute fastest external Blu-ray drive, then the Pioneer BDR-X12UBK is designed just for you. Sure, you can compare it with the ASUS BW-16D1X-U, but the Pioneer version has a much cleaner and professional design. The ASUS version just looks flashy. Plus you can only place the BW-16D1X-U vertically if you buy an extra stand for it. Meanwhile Pioneer has already included everything you need for the BDR-X12UBK. Which is a much better package in my opinion. So if I had to choose between the two, I’d go with the Pioneer every time.